Gum (periodontal) disease is growing at an alarming rate among adult Americans. Studies show that 86% of this group have some form of the condition. With such high numbers, does heredity play a role? A periodontist in Colorado Springs tackles that question while also highlighting ways to both prevent and treat gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is the infection and inflammation of the gums, ligaments and bone around the teeth. The primary cause of the disease is untreated bacteria growth, and it typically moves through three stages:
- Gingivitis – This is the initial phase of gum disease, where there may be bleeding, irritation and inflammation. However, at this stage, the condition is treatable, and the damages are reversible.
- Periodontitis – At this point, there has been permanent damage done, and a procedure like a deep cleaning may be required to clear the infected gum pockets.
- Advanced Periodontitis – Allowing gum disease to continue untreated can eventually lead to tooth loss as the roots are dissolved by the acids. A surgical procedure may be required at this point to restore your oral health.
By practicing excellent oral hygiene and receiving regular dental care, you can lessen your chances of developing this condition, but you still may be wondering, “Is it possible to be genetically predisposed to gum disease?”
Is Gum Disease Hereditary?
Recent studies show it is possible to have a genetic trait for gum disease. A more acute form of the condition has been discovered, which is called Aggressive Periodontitis. It causes patients to rapidly lose bone around a few or all their teeth.
It is suspected that up to 30% of the population may have genetic susceptibility to gum disease, and they are 20 times more likely to develop more aggressive forms of the condition than those without this genetic marker.
The Safe Route
One way to determine susceptibility is to have a DNA test taken, but here are some simple things you can do no matter what your genetic makeup is:
- Visit your Dentist – As mentioned earlier, gum disease is caused by bacteria growth. When you visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and check-ups, any lingering plaque and tartar are removed that could contribute to poor oral health. Then, if a restoration is needed, it can be done early to prevent advanced decay.
- Practice Consistent and Proper Oral Hygiene – Brushing and flossing at least two times a day are vital to your oral health. For the brushing to be effective, it should be done for two minutes – 30 seconds per quadrant. Then, the use of dental floss will allow you to get into the really tight spaces that can’t be cleaned with your toothbrush.
- Manage Your Food Intake – A final way to protect your oral health is to starve the bacteria. Don’t give them the sugary, starchy foods they love. A diet high in vegetables and fruits is a simple way to fortify your oral health.
Whether you have a genetic predisposition for developing gum disease or not, you don’t have to fall prey to this condition. By taking a proactive approach to maintaining your oral health and working with a local periodontist, you can overcome gum disease in Colorado Springs and enjoy a healthy mouth, teeth and gums.
About the Author
Dr. Karl Lackler earned both his Master of Science in Periodontics and Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and he was rated in the top 3% of the National Periodontal Exam. He has remained an active learner and contributor to expanding the field of dentistry through his affiliation with the American Academy of Periodontology and maintaining the status of Diplomate with the American Board of Periodontics. Dr. Lackler helps patients prevent and recover from gum disease at Rocky Mountain Periodontal Specialists, and he can be reached for more information through his website.